Green’s Dictionary of Slang

college n.

[ironic uses of SE, the overall ref. is to prison as a ‘university of crime’; note mid-17C Oxbridge use college, a public house or tavern with a sign of a green garland or painted hoop; WWI Aus. milit. college, 39 General Hospital and No. 2 Stationery Hospital, primarily treating VD]

1. a brothel.

[UK]Dekker Seven Deadly Sinnes II 52: Letchery is patron of al your Suburb Colledges, and set vp Vaulting-houses, and Daunsing-Schooles.
[UK]H. Glapthorne Hollander I i: Doe you not keepe a pimping roaring varlet, noted as much as pig, have you not constant she soldiers in your citadell, none such, had Hollands Leager, Lambeth Marsh is held a Nunry to your Colledge.
[UK]London-Bawd (1705) Ch. vii: But there were other Citizens Wives that were as full of Leachery as this, tho’ not so handsome: And they found Trading very sensibly Decay, since this Fair Sinner was enter’d into the Colledge.

2. (UK Und.) Newgate prison.

[UK]Dekker O per se O N4: At the Gallowes [they] are made Graduates of Newgate and other Gaoles, (the Hang-mans Colledges).
‘Megg. Spencer’ A Conference 3: Wellcome Deer Sister Priss to this our Colledge of Newgate.
[[UK]Hue and Cry after Mercurius Democritus 1: [title] A Hue and cry after Mercurius Democritus and the Wandring-Whore [...] after taking their degrees in the black University of Newgate].
Sixth part of the wandring whore revived n.p.: I was committed to the Metropolitan Colledg [sic] upon a plea of trespass.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
Hist. of Whittington’s Colledge otherwise (vulgarly) called Newgate. London, Printed in the Year 1703.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Pope Mother Gin 7: We, good fellows both, here haply meet, Thou from the College ’scaped, I from the Fleet.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: He has been educated at the steel, and took his last degree at college; he has received his education at the house of correction, and was hanged at Newgate.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

3. (UK Und.) any prison; also attrib.; thus go to college, to go to prison.

[UK]J. Melton Astrologaster 32: Most of the Varlets belonging to the Citie Colledges (I meane both the prodigious Compters) haue fierie red faces, that they cannot put a Cup of Nippitato to their Snowts, but with the extreme heat that doth glow from them, they make it cry hisse againe.
[UK]Rowley Match at Midnight I i: The College of extravaging, Eclipt Bridewell.
[UK]Crackfart & Tony 13: We have several, that weekly and daily search all the prisons in Town, for working Tools, that is, out of these Colleges do pick Persons fit for desperate designs.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 120: Those formidable fellows [...] were not half so good at execution, as the gentlemen of the college.
[UK]N. Ward Vulgus Britannicus II 21: And tow’rds the Rooks Old College drew, / More Wild and Insolent they grew.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[[UK]Life of Fanny Davies 28: The Marshalsea, another seminary of Sputhwark, for training up swindlers, was saved from the fire, but all the students were set at liberty].
[UK]‘T.B. Junr’ Pettyfogger Dramatized II iii: I always thought that fellow would come to an untimely end. He’s now gone to college.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]J. Burrowes Life in St George’s Fields 11: And if we should to college go, / Three months pays every debt we owe.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Heart of London I ii: They should send him to some common college, not Newgate.
[UK]Satirist (London) 25 Nov. 384/2: Ever yours, dear Sat, Theophilus Whitecross College.
[UK]Satirist (London) 21 Apr. 546/1: The more secluded precincts of a ‘private room’ in Farringdon College.
[UK]Dickens Little Dorrit (1967) 264: The brothers, walking up and down the College-yard together, were a memorable sight.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[UK]Answers 8 June 25: I have since met several men who I knew in prison [...] only one has stopped me to remind me that we were at ‘college’ together [F&H].
A. Baer ‘Bugs’ Baer 8 Dec. [synd. col.] Five seasons in the compulsory college.
[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 116: Big house — hoosegow, stir or college.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks 24/1: College, a reformatory; a house of correction.
[US]Slanguage Dict. Mod. Amer. Sl.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 47/1: College. A State prison or penitentiary.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 37: I didn’t get no diploma yet from this here college, but I’m all clued in.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 42: College – prison, more specifically Borstal.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 College. Gaol. Captures the notion of prison as a university for crime.
[Aus]P. Temple Dead Point (2008) [ebook] Her kid, he’s naughty, studyin at this new place, the Port Phillip college, new slammer.
[US]J. Stahl Bad Sex on Speed 51: Tonk introduced him as a ‘friend from college,’ ha-ha, old prison joke.

4. (UK Und.) King’s (or Queen’s) Bench or Fleet prison; also attrib.

in R. King Frauds of London Detected.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: King’s College: the King’s Bench prison.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry III v: All in the Fleet we’re safely moor’d [...] Let faint-heart fools, dread College rules.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 282: Banco Regis, most certainly, is a College, in every sense of the word — it contains lots of wranglers; and also, it cannot be denied, that numbers of ignorant folks, who have been sent to study only for a few weeks within its walls, how to improve their situations in life, have left Banco Regis much wiser in the head, if not richer in the pocket!
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 116/2: College, the King’s Bench, or Fleet prison.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 101: In days not very remote there were certain succursals, or chapels of ease, to the college [...] and in these tenements, which were called the ‘Rules,’ such collegians as were in a position to offer a fantastic guarantee entitled a ‘Bail Bond,’ were permitted to dwell.

5. (US Und.) a state prison, a penitentiary.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding house (1906) 59: ‘Pretty Sammy’ was just out of ‘college,’ and he had money.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Three Wise Guys’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 402: He is in college somewhere out West for highway robbery.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 9: college – Jail; the cat was away at college for an education.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 128: ‘Where you been?’ ‘College.’ ‘Jeez, I didn’t know. When?’.

6. (UK Und.) the workhouse.

[UK]Morn. Chron. (London) 2 Jan. 5/5: [W]hen she went in [to the Cambridge workhouse] she was as modest a girl as possible for one of her sort to be [...] but when she came out she was as bad as any of us. She used often to say that she got her education finished there. We call it ‘going to college’.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 85/2: College (Poor Peoples’). The workhouse. Term by no means satirical, and used to avoid the true expression. ‘The old gent is gorne inter the college at last.’ ‘Mother ain’t ’ome now – she’s at the college.’.

7. (Aus.) a two-up school.

[Aus]‘A “Push” Story’ in Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Sept. 17/1: ‘’N’ what drove th’ demons t’ muck up th’ college?’ ‘Well, it takes some constant chat, Squezzer ; but I’m fit t’ yap it, all in. Th’ school wuz in ’n’ goin’ gay’.

8. (US Und.) reform school.

[US]‘Vin Packer’ Young and Violent 48: He’s the creep that put me on probabtion [...] I come around again, I go off to college.

In compounds

college boy (n.)

(US prison) an inmate.

[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 37: Not for the keys and the badge [...] be college boys, like the rest of us.
college chum (n.) [chum n. (1)]

a prisoner.

[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) III 61: He was a college chum (a fellow-prisoner) whom I had met again.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 14 Sept. n.p.: [A] new system of guard duty which, we hope, will keep these ‘college chums’ quiet .
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 18: College Chum, a fellow prisoner.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 20 Sept. 6/4: [In prison] he meets [...] college chums.
[UK]‘Leslie Charteris’ Enter the Saint 112: And a rakish cap effect, as worn by college chums, would make it perfect.
[UK]B. Bennett ‘A Soldier’s Soliloquy’ in Billy Bennett’s Third Budget 11: By special request of a few college chums from the Aldershot Glasshouse.
college cove (n.) [cove n. (1)]

(UK Und.) the turnkey of Newgate prison.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: College Cove. The College cove has numbered him, and if he is knocked down he’ll be twisted; the turnkey of Newgate has told the judge how many times the prisoner has been tried before and therefore if he is found guilty, he certainly will be hanged. It is said to be the custom of the Old Bailey for one of the turnkeys of Newgate to give information to the judge how many times an old offender has been tried, by holding up as many fingers as the number of times the prisoner has been before arraigned at that bar.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

college try (n.) (also college effort) [the myth of ‘college spirit’]

(US) a plucky effort, esp. against heavy odds; usu. in phr. (let’s) give it the old college try.

Buffalo Commercial (NY) 16 Oct. 5/4: [in a major league baseball game] Snodgrass gave it the old college try and got away with it.
Elyria (OH) Eve. Telegram 19 Oct. 4/4: [headline] The Old College Try.
[US]W. Winchell ‘On Broadway’ 3 Oct. [synd. col.] The best they could give Rudy [Vallee] was cheers for a college try.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 199: They figured to clean up some money fast with this good old college try.
[US](con. 1950) E. Frankel Band of Brothers 325: There’s your answer [...] They’re going to give it the old college try.
[UK]J. Colebrook Cross of Lassitude 326: Okay – the old college try – you did your best!
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 269: I guess maybe I could keep it all separate, give it the old college try.
[US]C. Stroud Close Pursuit (1988) 111: Oh, God! Not both of them at once! Yeah, she was going to give it the old college try.
[US]D.H. Sterry Chicken (2003) 78: I am skeptical about Georgia ever having an orgasm [...] But I’m certainly willing to give it the old college try.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 89: The world’s problems demanded the old college effort.
[US]L. Berney Whiplash River [ebook] ‘About getting a woman in my bed. I was gonna give it the old college try’.
college widow (n.) [? coined by the US satirist George Ade]

(US) an unmarried woman, in some way associated with a given college, whose advancing age does not deter her from associating with successive generations of students.

Times (Phila., PA) 30 Mar. 2/3: What becomes of the college graduate? Ourtside the family circle, the college widow and the secret societies he is as unknown as the prehistoric man.
News Jrnl (Wilmington, DE) 11 Mar. 2/2: The Delaware Ledger defines a ‘college widow’ as ‘a girl that lives in Newark and grows quite old’.
[US]Pittsburgh Dispatch (PA) 2 May 1/7: The Washington Girl [...] When the new administration comes in and these fellows drop out, she becomes what the ‘regulars’ call a ‘college widow.’ ‘The Washington girl [...] always wants to marry, but she rarely gets there’.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 29: college-widow, n. A girl whom new men meet from year to year, but whom no one ever marries.
[US]Ade & Jarmuth [film title] The College Widow.
Perelman & Johnstone Horse Feathers [film script] A college widow stood for something in those days. In fact, she stood for plenty.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 55: college widow A noncollege girl who goes with college students.

In phrases